George is one of us
What’s to become of our beloved Royal George Hotel?
Most readers who live in the vicinity of East Fremantle will know our iconic Royal George Hotel, which has suffered many indignities since she lost her licence in 1979.
I recall driving up George Street from Silas Street with my wife in 1978 and noticing this wonderful old building identified as the “Royal George Hotel”.
You could have fired a shot down George Street without hurting anyone as there was not a soul to be seen on that balmy Sunday afternoon.
We were looking for a new home and this part of East Fremantle known as Plympton seemed just the ticket.
We parked our car with no trouble and went into the front bar for a cleansing ale as the journey from Nedlands was not unsubstantial.
This was the start of my love affair with the Plympton area and this building known as the Royal George Hotel which was designed by Emil Mauermann for Daniel and Michael Mulcahy, hoteliers from Kalgoorlie. The hotel was first opened in October 1903.
I have followed her many trials and tribulations since 1978: from campaigning as an East Fremantle councillor against the hotel’s demolition by Main Roads in 1980 to make way for the extension of Stirling Highway from Stirling Bridge to High Street, to its use as a popular Thai restaurant, art gallery, artists’ workshops and then a derelict, boarded-up shell.
Both the town and the National Trust “dropped the ball” as far as managing and maintaining the hotel which, by 2003, was crying out for a major restoration.
Custodianship passed from the town to the National Trust in 2004 because the town, at that stage, was unable to restore the hotel. A few years ago artist Tony Jones led a campaign to try and obtain some action from the National Trust but we were singularly unsuccessful.
In mid-2009 there was a serious restoration proposal made to the town, but after a considerable battle with the council, the applicants eventually walked away because of the strict parking requirements that were a condition of planning approval.
A decade later it was still empty and about three years ago, the hotel finally passed to the WA government.
Subsequently, real estate developer Saracen Properties expressed an interest in buying the property.
In June 2017, Saracen purchased the Royal George Hotel site via a private treaty for the princely sum of $627,000. Now Saracen claim that, in order to fund the restoration which was a condition of the sale, they will need to build a monstrous 21-storey apartment block at the northern end of the site. This is ludicrous as the only access to the site is via a small slip road known as St Peter’s Road and the busy George Street.
The town’s planners worked feverishly to put together an amendment to the town planning scheme which limits the height of any development to six storeys.
This amendment is currently awaiting ratification by the WA planning commission.
There is little doubt that the planning commission and the minister for planning, Rita Safiotti, are under some pressure from the developer to “amend” the East Fremantle town council’s amendment to allow a much taller development.
What I am questioning is that a local goverment who works exceedingly hard to “get it right” in the interests of the great majority of local residents can have its work negated at the whim of a higher authority who really does not know what is in the best interests of us, the residents.
What price democracy?
Sewell Street, East Fremantle
Marshal the heritage troops
I WOULD like it to be known that I support E Johnson’s letter “Yardstick” in last week’s Herald, supporting a previous letter writer’s disappointment at the removal of the marshalling yards building at Leighton Beach.
The conservation of heritage needs to be more thoughtful and be extended to include unique and significant buildings, landscapes and sites from all eras of history.
Noel Street, Hilton
The bigger picture
WHAT’S all the fuss about in last week’s Herald article “In the red over yellow foil”?
To have such a spectacular piece of street art work as Felice Varini’s Arc d’Ellipses in Fremantle has been fabulous.
Although I gather it was originally developed as a short-term project, its impact was clearly significant and council decided to extend its life.
As a consequence it has been more difficult to remove and is going to cost more. For those who want to complain about the cost of removal I ask, how much does it cost to remove other art work [graffiti]?
Lets put this in perspective: appreciate the art itself, appreciate the tourism it has and will bring, and accept the cost as beneficial.
Detractor Shane Braddock might rethink his comment that “most [viewers] had come down outside office hours”.
If visiting after hours there would be more than “the odd cup of coffee” consumed as those visitors would have enjoyed the nightlife.
On the other hand those visiting during the day, which would be many, would have enjoyed many cups whilst sitting and admiring the landscape, and businesses would benefit.
Great work Freo council and on behalf of the art appreciators, thank you.
Davies Street, Beaconsfield
I AM a third generation resident in Melville and have lived here since 1961.
The former CEO of our council, Shayne Silcox, has obvious issues that he himself does not understand, and that is because he has an elitist attitude.
Getting paid the big bucks isn’t a prerequisite to intelligence and leadership. Pretty much anyone can unleash developers into a suburb and redefine it, however, it takes a real leader to have the foresight and ability to carry this off in a way that creates a phenomenal outcome that can only be viewed as complimentary and creative.
When the Liberal government asked the shire to increase the density around Canning Bridge, how smart do you have to be to get the big high-rise elite into the area by rezoning?
Increasing density in a manner that complements a beautiful and unique suburb like Applecross would take a skill set that obviously alludes the management of Melville council.
I am so over having the narrow-minded worm themselves into a position of power and then crying about the flack they get from the locals.
Great leaders are loved by the masses.
Putting aside the mass of opposition to the wave park, who allows an organisation that relies on a large number of patrons to set up a business that will truly redefine the area, when it is not readily accessible to a large number of residents of the greater metropolitan area and would likely fail for that reason alone?
What strategy does the council have for that – demolition?
Come on you who believe you are a leader. Lead with foresight enthusiasm and intelligence. We, the masses, will be with you all the way.